Maiden Stone

  • 4.5m north west of Inverurie on the A96



The Maiden Stone is one of the best examples of Pictish sculptural stonework standing today. It’s 3m tall and made from pinkish granite. It was probably carved some time after AD 700, though this is debated.

It may be one of the last symbol-bearing monuments to have been erected in Aberdeenshire and probably stands close to its original location.

On one face of the cross is:

  • a male figure flanked by two opposed sea monsters: possibly Jonah, escorted by two whales
  • a ring-headed cross beneath the figure
  • ornate carved patterns, including interlace, key-pattern and knotwork

The other side is divided into four panels, featuring carvings of a centaur and other animals. There’s also a notched rectangle with a Z-rod, a Pictish beast and a mirror with double-sided comb.

As a cross-slab, it’s an overtly Christian monument, and judging by its scale, it was probably intended as a significant marker in the landscape.

Stories of the stone

There’s a rich folk tradition attached to the Maiden Stone, and it’s still an active part of local folklore.

The stone’s traditionally linked with a daughter of the laird of Balquhain. She’s said to have made a wager with a stranger that she could bake a good supply of bread before he could build a road to the top of the nearby hill of Bennachie.

But the stranger turned out to be the Devil. He finished the road before the bread was ready, and returned to claim the maiden as a reward. As she fled, he caught her and transformed her into the Maiden Stone.

The stone may also be linked to St Medan, an early Christian missionary, about whom very little is known.

Reminders of the Picts

We don’t know a lot about the Picts, the descendants of Iron-Age tribes who occupied the area north of the Forth and Clyde estuaries in the first millennium AD. They left about 300 carved stones across the country, mainly in the north and east. The earliest of these stones, such as the Brandsbutt Stone, date to about AD 600 and display a variety of enigmatic symbols.

The Maiden Stone, probably erected after AD 700, bridges the gap between symbol stones and the later group of Pictish cross-slabs, which were largely carved in the AD 800s and were more overtly Christian.


Opening times

Can be viewed during summer months.

The stone is covered in winter as it is vulnerable to frost damage and the cold winter conditions.

Historic Scotland


Download our visitor app

Discover more on the go – the Historic Scotland app lets you find out about Scotland’s most iconic places wherever you are.

Plan your visit

More than 20 of our sites are now open. Please book your tickets in advance.

Become a member

Join Historic Scotland to visit our properties free of charge for a full year and support our work at the same time.

Hire a site for filming

Use one of our fantastic locations on your next shoot for an awe-inspiring backdrop to your work.

Learning visits

Our 300+ historic places serve as creative inspiration for all sorts of learning activities – and for learners of all ages.

Search our events

See the past brought to life by the imaginative year-round programme of events at our properties.